UBS Whistleblower to Assist French Investigation of Swiss Bank

UBS whistleblower Bradley Birkenfeld who assisted the U.S. in its successful prosecution of Swiss bank UBS AG for aiding U.S. citizens to commit tax evasion, has been asked to assist France with a similar investigation. Mr. Birkenfeld will travel to Paris to comply with a French subpoena requiring him to testify against UBS AG. French authorities have demanded that Birkenfeld provide testimony and “documentary evidence.”

Mr. Birkenfeld was a key part of the U.S. prosecution of UBS that resulted in the 2009 settlement, which included a deferred prosecution agreement. He had started cooperating with authorities in 2007, by detailing ways that the bank actively helped clients maintain undeclared accounts shielded by Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws. At the time of its settlement, UBS acknowledged helping Americans evade taxes. 

Tax lawyer based in Zurich, Milan Patel believes the testimony of Bradley Birkenfeld could increase pressure on UBS in France. “This is a significant development because Birkenfeld brought down UBS in the United States,” says Milan Patel. At the time, “he was based in Geneva, he had to be familiar with cross-border activities of the bank in France. He dealt mainly with US clients, but I doubt that it was his sole area.”

Mr. Birkenfeld, won the world’s largest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Fraud Whistleblower reward when he disclosed illegal offshore Swiss banking that resulted in over $5 billion recovered for U.S. taxpayers. His information forced Switzerland to change its international treaty with the United States resulting and its largest bank was forced to turn over the names of over 4,900 U.S. citizens who held illegal offshore accounts. Mr. Birkenfeld received a $104 million IRS Whistleblower reward – the largest ever received by an individual whistleblower.

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